We Have Met The Enemy and He is Us

Road rage is a serious problem for cyclists. If you’ve ridden any amount of time, you’ve certainly experienced the extra loud horn, the close pass, the over-revved engine, shouts, and the hand gestures.

And at the same time you’ve probably thought, “What the F***?!? I wasn’t doing anything. Jerk.”

Where does the road rage come from?

Well, I saw them today. From the perspective of a driver. The reason for all the road rage.

I was driving through my small town today, which is itself a small slice of cycling heaven. Lots of cyclists start here or ride through here. I often get groups of 30 riders coming past my house on big club rides, and there are endless solo or pairs coming through all the time.

The roads are narrow, there are few painted lines even, blind corners and hills, and there are no sidewalks. Just road and soft shoulders. It’s a place where drivers and cyclists truly need to co-exist.

There’s one particular fun hill to climb and descend. It’s about a half mile up and another half down. The downs end at stop signs.

I was driving my kids to camp this morning heading up this hill as I approached a line of three cars stuck behind a group of four cyclists, and I quickly caught up. The car in front couldn’t pass because the group was pretty well oblivious to the fact that there were cars lining up behind them. They were attacking the hill, standing, riding hard, bikes jerking back and forth as happens in a sprint, passing each other erratically as in a race. It was pretty well impossible to pass safely, or at least comfortably, in a car even though they were going well under the speed limit up this hill.

They reached the top of the hill, still without allowing anyone to pass, and bombed down the descent, pulling ahead of the cars. (No problem with that part.)

Until they reached the bottom, where they took a left turn at a 4-way stop at full speed. In full view of at least 4 motorists who are already watching closely and shaking their heads at these guys.

Inconsiderate and reckless. And damaging to the entire cycling community.

Now these guys are serious cyclists. They know what they’re doing. They all wore the kit from a local racing club.

They are too serious, apparently, to care.

I’m no stickler for traffic rules on the bike. I’ll run stop signs, but certainly not without slowing down, and only if I can see that there’s no cars around, or at least if there are, if I have eye contact of a driver who is letting me go through. And I’ll wave thanks.

And if I’m at all in view of motorists, I’m much more careful about how I behave. Because I know that they’re watching and judging.

Does this make me any better than these guys? I don’t know.

How we behave affects all of us.

Where’s This Bike Noob Headed?

Well there’s week one in the books as the new maintainer of the Bike Noob blog. We’ve updated the blog, given the Facebook page a facelift, and starting getting more active there. Ray did an amazing job here building this, and I hope to keep it going at least as well as he did.

Don and Jeff have both expressed interest in sticking around as guest bloggers, which is wonderful.

There is a pretty active group of readers here, and while I don’t expect to immediately become your bestie, I do hope you’ll continue to participate and I’ll get to know you better.

Here’s a bit about me.

Hello. My name is Scott. And I’m a cyclist.

I’m kind of obsessed with it, and I’ve discovered that of all the things to be obsessed with, a form of exercise is a pretty great one. I mentioned in another post that cycling has changed my life, and it has. First, it’s made me a happier person. I do believe that there is a “cyclist’s high“. And, I’ve gotten a heck of a lot healthier. I’m in the best shape of my life, though the New England winters do have a way of putting the pounds back on. They do come off quite quickly on the bike.

I ride both road and mountain, though pretty much all road unless my friends drag me into the woods. I don’t like mountain biking nearly as much.

I live in Massachusetts, about 20 miles west of Boston. Which pretty much means I say I’m from Boston. But I live in a pretty rural area with quiet windy roads. Cyclists drive from all over to start rides here, so I’m pretty lucky. I’m also on the eastern edge of where the hills start getting big around here. So if I ride west, it’s hilly. East, flat.

I love hills. Up and down. I also like going on long rides, metric century rides, century rides, and longer. Particularly when they include one or more mountains to climb. I’m lucky to have Mt. Wachusett climb as the turnaround point for a metric century ride.

Halfway up Mt. Wachusett

I started cycling about 4 years ago after watching some friends enjoy it for a few years. So I dusted off my old steel Schwinn Traveler from college, which I never rode, and gave it a go. This time I fell hard. In love. Not to the pavement. Well I did that too first time on clipless pedals. I put new wheels on it, way better than it deserved and told myself that if I rode for the entire year I’d call myself a cyclist and buy a new bike.

I rode 3,000 miles on that bike.

That winter, I bought a new bike, all in pieces, and built it myself. Everybody needs a winter project, right?

In my fourth season now, I’m about to pass 10,000 miles. I’ve learned a lot, and still have a lot to learn. I hope to share the former and do more of the latter here, and have some fun while doing it.

Please say hi in the comments. And join me on the Bike Noob facebook page.

And here I am on Strava.

Thanks for sticking around through the changes!

The Bike Wave. Do You?

 

While riding recently with someone I don’t normally ride with, after passing the umpteenth cyclist going the other way, he proclaimed, “I don’t do that wave thing.”

I had to ask him to repeat himself because, what?

I didn’t consider it a thing. I just wave. Unless I hate the person.

I guess it’s sort of a thing. Let’s look at other similar creatures.

Jeep owners: They wave. I’ve always thought that was kind of dumb actually. If you’re surrounded by windows and a roof, a wave is kind of pointless.

Harley bikers: They wave that that down low wave. Doesn’t get cooler than that.

Walkers smile, and say “hi”. I mean, they have time for an entire conversation.

Runners at least give themselves a knowing look.
A look that says, “OMFG this hurts. Why do I do this?”

So cyclists? Of course we should. We’re freakin’ happy!

Personally, I do the Harley wave. Or the don’t-let-go, lift-your-fingers, wave if I’m bombing down a hill at 45 mph. Or at least a head nod.

For the love, life’s too short, give a wave.

But here are some important questions that I ponder while out there with my thoughts.

Should a cyclist wave to a runner? At least out of pity.
Should a roadie wave to a mountain biker? Respect.
What do you do when you pass a 20-man pace line? All the waves? one long one?
And what about if you’re overtaking someone? Especially on a big hill. I admit, there’s a bit of gloat there. Insult to injury.
And most importantly, what if you get snubbed? Chase him right down and confront.

Here’s a thought. How about waving to a motorist? When someone lets you cross, passes safely, patiently waits for you to go by before proceeding out of a stop sign. Do you wave a thanks?

There’s enough cyclist hate out there that we could use to diffuse it a bit with some nice gestures once in a while.

So I’ll leave you with that. Next time out, wave to a motorist.

They won’t wave back, but that’s ok. you’re not driving a Jeep. And they probably hate you. But hopefully a little less.